Ask, “What is discipleship?” in a group of church leaders, and if honest answers were forthcoming, the most frequently associated word would be “class” or “group.”
While classes and groups may supplement the discipleship process, attendance alone is insufficient. All-of-life discipleship – learning to follow, trust, and obey Jesus in the everyday stuff of life beyond classroom walls – requires more than completing a book study or participating in a discussion group.
Could it be that we are classifying discipleship in the church with a consumeristic point of view, in which people attend church as passive recipients of religious goods and services?
Solution – Live for Jesus in these three key environments
THE QUICK SUMMARY – Saturate by Jeff Vanderstelt
What does it look like to live for Jesus in the everyday stuff of life?
Many Christians have unwittingly embraced the idea that “church” is a once-a-week event rather than a community of Spirit-empowered people; that “ministry” is what pastors do on Sundays rather than the 24/7 calling of all believers; and that “discipleship” is a program rather than the normal state of every follower of Jesus.
Drawing on his experience as a pastor and church planter, Jeff Vanderstelt wants us to see that there’s more—much more—to the Christian life than sitting in a pew once a week. God has called His people to something bigger: a view of the Christian life that encompasses the ordinary, the extraordinary, and everything in between.
Packed full of biblical teaching, compelling stories, and real-world advice, this book will remind you that Jesus is filling the world with His presence through the everyday lives of everyday people…
People just like you.
A SIMPLE SOLUTION
Disciples have a personality, but they are not themselves – at least, when Jesus is at work in and through them.
The disciples of Jesus were all very unique individuals, with peculiar characteristics. Many, if not most, would not be on our list of people whom Jesus would choose to carry forward His ministry and teachings in the first – and twenty-first – centuries.
Yet when those men put down their nets, left their life’s work behind and followed Jesus, something changed. They became saturated with Jesus. He filled them, and in turn, they filled the world by Him.
That same saturation that characterized Jesus’ first disciples is available to us today.
As we’ve grown in following Jesus daily and helped people increasingly submit to Jesus in everything, we’ve discovered that discipleship cannot happen simply by attending church gatherings or going to classes.
All-of-life discipleship – learning to follow, trust, and obey Jesus in the everyday stuff of life – requires submitting to and obeying God’s Word in three key environments: life on life, where our lives are visible and accessible to one another; life in community, where more than one person is developing another; and life on mission, where we experience making disciples and, while doing so, come to realize how much we need God’s power.
God wants to restore you to his original design. That is what discipleship is truly about – making you truly human, just as Jesus is the perfectly complete human.
His means of restoration is others in your life who are committed to bringing your brokenness out into the open and bringing the gospel of Jesus to bear on it. We have to get close. We have to be seen and known.
This is what we call life-on-life discipleship – life that is lived up close so that we are visible and accessible to one another.
Jesus is not finished with me yet, and he has given me a community to participate in making me more like him.
If you look at the life and ministry of Jesus, and subsequently the ministry of the apostle Paul, you certainly would not come to the conclusion that one-on-one discipleship is best. Jesus discipled his followers while they experienced life together in community.
We fulfill the mission of making disciples most effectively when we are on mission in community. To grow toward being a disciple maker in all of life, you need on-the-job training, and that’s what life on mission is about.
Jesus taught the disciples the basics of making disciples while they were on the mission of making disciples. The best training for mission happens while on mission.
Jeff Vanderstelt, Saturate
A NEXT STEP
In your next large leadership gathering, ask your team to:
- List the faith-based activities, classes, or programs they are involved in.
- Evaluate on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) how each activity has helped them grow in their personal relationship with God during the last three months. Discuss how or why not.
- Now, ask each person to estimate how much time each week they have developed their personal relationship with God in addition to the group or classroom time.
- Ask them what could be different in the activities, if a specifically defined goal of each were to spiritually transform lives outside of meeting time.
- Finally, create at least one action step for each leader to move their participation closer toward discipleship.
Bonus: With your staff team, look at your church calendar for the next six months. Ask the question, “How will these activities grow our people as disciples of Jesus?” Go through the same set of five questions above, in terms of major activities on the church calendar.
Jesus is in the business of changing selfish people into selfless followers. Church leaders have the responsibility to create and nourish environments, patterns, and relationships that will help believers achieve that transformation.
Taken from SUMS Remix 37-1, published March 2016
This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox).